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Dynamics of plant-flow interactions for the seagrass Amphibolis antarctica: Field observations and model simulations

Verduin, J.J. and Backhaus, J.O. (2000) Dynamics of plant-flow interactions for the seagrass Amphibolis antarctica: Field observations and model simulations. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 50 (2). pp. 185-204.

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Seagrass canopies influence water flow partly as a consequence of their morphology. Amphibolis antarctica (Labill.) Sonder et Aschers. ex Aschers, an Australian endemic, is different morphologically from more-commonly studied blade-like seagrasses such as Zostera and Thalassia. Field measurements and model predictions were used to characterize water flow within and above an A. antarctica meadow. A series of high resolution three-dimensional velocity measurements were obtained within, above and adjacent to A. antarctica meadows at different heights above the seabed. Field observations on the effect of seagrass canopy on flow show an overall damping effect. Power spectra of the velocity data revealed a reduction in energy from 500 (cm s-1)2 s-1 to 10 (cm s-1)2 s-1 within the canopy. Profiles of kinetic energy were calculated from in situ velocity measurements at 5 cm increments from 10 cm to 80 cm above the seabed, within and above the seagrass canopy. There was an intensification of flow where the canopy structure was densest (approximately 40 cm above the seabed) and slightly above it. The baffling effect of the canopy was most effective 25 cm above the seabed: here the flow was reduced from 50 cm s-1 at free surface to 2-5 cm s-1. A slight increase in flow within the canopy was seen 10 cm above the sediment due to reduced friction exerted by the lower leafless stems of the plants. A high resolution three-dimensional hydrodynamic model was coupled to a ten-layer canopy model for shallow coastal site dimensions. By applying different friction factors to various parts of the plant, mimicking its architecture, water flow was shown to be altered by the plant canopy according to its morphology. The derived computational results were in good agreement with the observed in situ velocity and kinetic energy changes. As a result of this study it is now possible to accurately predict plant-flow interactions determining pollen and particles distribution and dispersal.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Academic Press
Copyright: © 2000 Academic Press
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